Jobs for Mums talks to Oriana Borg Ellul Vincenti. A mum who took her life-long love for art and launched her very own flexible working business. As we sit and listen to how Oriana makes her work-life balance work, we are sure she has some kind of a magic wand, and I suspect it just might be one of her paint brushes.
Read along and find out how this working mum paints her work-life balance and makes it picture perfect for her and her family.
Name: Oriana Borg Ellul Vincenti
Relationship Status: Married
Children: Benji 4 yrs and Max 2yrs
Work status: Self-employed
I graduated from the University of Malta
with a degree in Communications (Hons.) following which I worked in Sales and Graphic Design and eventually settled as a Marketing
Account Executive within a marketing agency where I spent 6 years. Unfortunately I was made redundant just as I found out I was pregnant with my second child, so they kind of took the decision for me to stop working to raise my children, which I was happy to do.
Shortly after my youngest son’s first birthday I started considering going back to work but couldn’t find anything that I enjoyed doing and that offered a good work-life balance
. So I started looking into opening my own business. … and that was how Artful Toddler Malta
Tell us something about yourself. Career background. Hobbies. Anything.
To me, my family is always my number one priority. I love spending time with them especially on holiday. I love travelling – especially to theme parks — and wish I could do it more often. I have also always been artistic and enjoyed anything creative since I was young. I did anything from painting to pottery, flower arranging, interior design, graphic design or photography. To me being creative is a way of relaxing the mind and just forgetting about the hectic world around you, especially in today’s digital age where it is so hard to switch off.
Tell us about your Company/ Business?
My love of the arts is what led me to open up my business – Artful Toddler. I was always trying to come up with fun crafts for my sons to do but sometimes it was just too much of a hassle to buy the supplies, set things up and then clean it all up after, so it got me thinking that this type of activity was missing in the local market. After doing some research I came across the UK franchise of Artful Toddler
and bought my license and I am officially their first international franchisee.
We launched the first term this year in January and got off to a great start with a total of 60 children signing up. We offer craft classes for children from 12 months to 5 years with 2 structured crafts per session as well as toys, stories, puppets and lots of fun! In August we also launched our Holiday Clubs with our Santa Marija Summer Sessions. These are drop off classes for children over 3 years and were also very popular. Other than these, we also organise parties based on the same concept.
I am currently busy preparing for the next term which starts on the 14th September. We’ve had some great positive feedback, with some children who have already signed up once again for the third consecutive term, which is definitely encouraging when you are launching something new and different.
How did your career change when you became a Mum?
With my first child I didn’t feel much of a change. I took 8 months off, making use of my maternity and parental leave and then went back to work on reduced hours which gave me time to continue with my work and time to spend with my son. After my second child however things were much more hectic and the thought of going back to work every day was stressing me out before even starting. So I looked for something that was flexible for me and so far it is working out great, even though it was a completely unexpected career change.
When and why did you choose to go back to work?
Personally my brain needs something more challenging to focus on other than just my kids. As much as I love them, I believe you need to keep the brain active to keep yourself energised and motivated. My current choice of work gives me just enough stimulation to keep me going. Although I must admit that being self employed and working alone I sometimes miss having work colleagues to have a chat or giggle with. However, I get to meet loads of new people (and children) too so I’m not really alone that much… we just have short conversations once a week!
How do you and your child/children spend time together?
I only work away from home twice a week so I get to spend a lot of time with my children. Even on those two days I work, I go to pick them up from school/daycare so I have time with them in between my classes too. They are obsessed with the Aquarium
as we have a membership there and go almost once a week. They love it and it always relaxes them. We also enjoy spending time outdoors – either on the beach (winter and summer), picnics or at the swings with their bicycle/scooter. Another favourite is visiting and feeding any animals such as at the Petting Farm
… or just relaxing at home and coming up with fun do-it-yourself stuff or some crafts. They always get excited when they see an idea for something new brewing in my head and often tell me they would rather stay home than go out to the swings!
You seem really busy! How do you manage work and family?
My job allows me to! Luckily, working on my own allows me to work in my own time. There are a lot of emails to answer and a lot of preparation for the classes, from preparing lesson plans, sourcing all the required material, sorting it all out according to each lesson and also a lot of cutting! I remember my first 2 craft projects of the term were a spider and a flower which involved me needing to cut out 8 spider legs, 2 leaves and a flower head each for 60 children… it literally took a whole weekend! Fortunately, it is something I could easily do while still sitting near my kids, chatting with them and playing with them in between so it didn’t really feel like work. Also since my crafts are aimed at children their age I also do my sample crafts with them and they always get excited when they see my boxes of supplies!
On the two days I have classes, the days do feel long since until I clean up and put everything away at the end of the day I sometimes get home at around 8pm so the children would be almost ready for bed. Thankfully, I have a very supportive husband who also helps out especially on my work days or when I have to organise a party, although I do try to limit these so as not to take up every weekend.
What is your childcare situation, and how do you deal with the arrangement?
My 4 yr old is now about to start KG2 so he will attend school every day and my younger son goes to daycare 3 times a week in the morning – on the 2 days I have classes and one other day which gives me time to either get errands or cooking done or prepare for the classes. The other 2 mornings he is with me and we usually spend the morning out together. In the afternoons when I work, my mother kindly looks after them until my husband gets back from work to take over and get them ready for bed. The children adapted to the situation well at least and were happy about it after the first week. They enjoy spending time with their grandmother so it’s a good bonding experience for them.
In what ways do you allow your work life and home life to overlap?
As much as possible I try to separate the two, although I do reply to quick emails or messages from my phone whilst playing with the kids for example. Also, when preparing for my crafts when possible I involve my children too. Otherwise I do a lot of work when they are sleeping or playing with my husband.
What motivates you?
My motivation for my job is seeing the development of each child in my class. I’ve had some children who came in kicking and screaming the first few lessons but eventually got used to the routine structure and then happily come running to see what the day’s projects are and excitedly show me their work when it’s finished.
Do you think it is easier or harder to be a working Mum today?
Although there is always room for improvement I think there has definitely been a big difference over the past few years. Many mums have come up with new ventures and ideas and are doing very well. Employers are also being a bit more flexible in their approach towards women and mothers.
Why should an employer not think twice about employing a Mum?
Working mums are definitely born multi-taskers who are good at getting the job done right and fast and have great time management skills, as at the end of the day we just want to go back home to our kids.
What is the best parenting advice to give to working Mums or those looking to return to the work force?
Success is what you make of it. If you are happy just being a stay at home mum then do it, but if you need something more then go for it. Just make sure that what you are doing is something you love as otherwise it will get you down and that stress and negativity will also be passed on to your kids.
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